His doctor's prognosis was made two years ago, based on what he saw then. To truly know his prognosis have him re-evaluated by the doctor and ask him for a new time frame. Factors that contribute most to mortality in lung disease are hypermucous secretion, acute respiratory infections, and cardiac co-morbidity (the presence of heart disease along with the lung disease). For now assume that your doctor's prognosis is accurate and he may be in the end stage of the disease. There are steps you can take to prepare for future needs.
He may or may not need home care. Some patients with lung disease will have a crisis that will negate the need for home care. Others will need anything from nursing to physical therapy to 24 hour care. If he is currently living independently with your assistance, and you are able to comfortably provide for his needs it may be several months before he needs more care. If you are becoming fatigued by his care you should set up assistance now. It does not have to be 24 hour or even 12 hour care. A Nurse can be arranged to visit, assess his needs and provide regular assistance with questions on diet, breathing exercises, etc. An aid can then come for 2-4 hours to provide assistance with dressing, shaving, ambulation (walking), and provide you time to run errands and see to your own needs without worrying over him. The nurse can be reassuring as a liaison with his doctor, to ask questions and arrange hospice care when the time is right.
First call your insurance company to ask what level of home care is covered, for how long, and how many visits per week. Ask if you can choose your own agency or if your insurance has a preferred network. Next call his Doctor and make an appointment. Write out a list of questions to make the most of the visit. This will be your chance to request home car assistance and ask about your husband's prognosis. Once care is arranged, the agency will contact you for the first appointment. The timing will be based on how much he can comfortably do for himself, and your needs as his caregiver. Do not put your needs on the back burner and compromise your health by not accepting help from others. It doesn't benefit him if you become ill. For more on home healthcare needs go to:
He should have certain paper work complete. A living will and durable power of attorney should be completed and on file with the hospital. If he has a will prepared you should have a copy and the original should be on file with an attorney. Even if the will is a simple one, he should have one in place to prevent any delays in settling his estate. If the bank accounts are in his name or they are joint accounts, consider opening accounts in your name alone to prevent any complications accessing the money you'll need. A statutory power of attorney can be prepared to allow you to complete financial transactions etc, in his place if he is incapacitated. If there is life insurance have a copy of the policy and who to call. If he is in charge of paying the bills make sure you have a current list of bills, due dates and balances. If you have a moderate to large estate, own your home and have investments you should consult with a lawyer to get advice on how to simplify the probate process.
Here are some basic forms and definitions that may help:
Statutory POA: http://www.finance.cch.com/tools/poaforms_m.asp look under Colorado statutory power of attorney.
Medical durable power of attorney and living will information and forms:
The forms are available at the end of the page as attachment a and b. For information on estate planning and probate go to:
A support group can help you cope, provide hope and support, help you prepare for what to expect by listening to other's stories and help you keep a balance between his needs and yours. Contact Well Spouse Association, the numbers are available at:
I hope this is helpful. If you have any follow up questions please ask them. I will be happy to continue our discussion until you have the answers you need.